Complaints Handling Code Self-Assessment 2023-24

Appendix B – Self-Assessment Form

This self-assessment form should be completed by the complaints officer and discussed at the landlord’s governing body annually.

Evidence should be included to support all statements with additional commentary as necessary.

Explanations must also be provided where a mandatory ‘must’ requirement is not met to set out the rationale for the alternative approach adopted and why this delivers a better outcome.

Section 1 – Definition of a complaint

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any explanations
1.2 A complaint must be defined as:
‘an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.
YPoint 1.2 in the complaint policy.
1.3The resident does not have to use the word ‘complaint’ for it to be treated as such. A complaint that is submitted via a third party or representative must still be handled in line with the landlord’s complaints policy.YPoint 3.2 and 6.9 in the complaints policy.
1.6 … if further enquiries are needed to resolve the matter, or if the resident requests it, the issue must be logged as a complaint.YPoint 7.2 in the complaints policy.
1.7
A landlord must accept a complaint unless there is a valid reason not to do so.
YPoint 6.3 to 6.9 in the complaints policy.
1.8A complaints policy must clearly set out the circumstances in which a matter will not be considered, and these circumstances should be fair and reasonable to residents.YPoints 6.3 – 6.9 in the complaints policy.
1.9If a landlord decides not to accept a complaint, a detailed explanation must be provided to the resident setting out the reasons why the matter is not suitable for the complaints process and the right to take that decision to the Ombudsman.

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
1.4Landlords should recognise the difference between a service request, where a resident may be unhappy with a situation that they wish to have rectified, and a complaint about the service they have/have not received.YPoint 6.3 in the Complaints Policy
1.5Survey feedback may not necessarily need to be treated as a complaint, though, where possible, the person completing the survey should be made aware of how they can pursue their dissatisfaction as a complaint if they wish to.YPoint 6.5 in the Complaints Policy

Section 2 – Accessibility and awareness

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any explanations
2.1Landlords must make it easy for residents to complain by providing different channels through which residents can make a complaint such as in person, over the telephone, in writing, by email and digitally. While the Ombudsman recognises that it may not be feasible for a landlord to use all of the potential channels, there must be more than one route of access into the complaints system.YPoint 5.6 in the Complaints Policy. We record and monitor how a complaint is raised through the complaints tracker.
2.3Landlords must make their complaint policy available in a clear and accessible format for all residents. This will detail the number of stages involved, what will happen at each stage and the timeframes for responding.YThe current Policy is on our website. The amended complaints policy will be uploaded to the website following sign-off. The complaints section of the website will be improved in line with website improvements works happening in April-May 2023.
2.4Landlord websites, if they exist, must include information on how to raise a complaint. The complaints policy and process must be easy to find on the website.Yhttps://www.mountgreen.org.uk/residents/complaints-and-feedback/
2.5Landlords must comply with the Equality Act 2010 and may need to adapt normal policies, procedures, or processes to accommodate an individual’s needs. Landlords must satisfy themselves that their policy sets out how they will respond to reasonable adjustments requests in line with the Equality Act and that complaints handlers have had appropriate training to deal with such requestsYPoint 2.3 in the complaints policy
2.6Landlords must publicise the complaints policy and process, the Complaint Handling Code and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme in leaflets, posters, newsletters, online and as part of regular correspondence with residents.YThis will all be uploaded to the website in line with the improvement works happening in April – May 2023
.
2.7Landlords must provide residents with contact information for the Ombudsman as part of its regular correspondence with residents.This is promoted by our Customer Experience Coordinator who monitors complaint handling. It is also outline in our investigation letter templates.
2.8Landlords must provide early advice to residents regarding their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service throughout their complaint, not only when the landlord’s complaints process is exhausted.YPoint 8 in the Complaints Policy

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
2.2Where a landlord has set up channels to communicate with its residents via social media, then it should expect to receive complaints via those channels. Policies should contain details of the steps that will be taken when a complaint is received via social media and how confidentiality and privacy will be maintained.YComplaints will not be taken through social media. If a complaint is raised by a resident, they will be asked to email the Customer Experience Team where this will be picked up.

Section 3 – Complaint handling personnel

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
3.1Landlords must have a person or team assigned to take responsibility for complaint handling to ensure
complaints receive the necessary attention, and that these are reported to the governing body. This Code
will refer to that person or team as the “complaints officer”.
YPoint 5 in the Complaints Policy explains staff responsibility for complaint handling. A Customer Experience Coordinator coordinates complaints management. This is overseen by the Customer Experience Manager. The Customer Experience Manager feeds complaints information to the Senior Leadership Team who report to The Board
3.2…the complaint handler appointed must have appropriate complaint handling skills and no conflicts of interest.YWhere possible, at the first stage of the complaints process the complaint is handed to a relevant member of frontline staff who has not been involved in the service failure.

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
3.3Complaint handlers should:
– be able to act sensitively and fairly
– be trained to handle complaints and deal with distressed and upset residents
– have access to staff at all levels to facilitate quick resolution of complaints
– have the authority and autonomy to act to resolve disputes quickly and fairly
YRegularly training is undertaken internally and externally. Complaints staff are encouraged to attend sessions and webinars with TPAS, the Ombudsman and
the CIH to keep improving learning in this area.

Section 4 – Complaint handling principles

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
4.1Any decision to try and resolve a concern must be taken in agreement with the resident and a landlord’s audit trail/records should be able to demonstrate this. Landlords must ensure that efforts to resolve a resident’s concerns do not obstruct access to the complaints procedure or result in any unreasonable delay. It is not appropriate to have extra named stages (such as ‘stage 0’ or ‘pre-complaint stage’) as this causes unnecessary confusion for residents. When a complaint is made, it must be acknowledged and logged at stage one of the complaints procedure within five days of receipt.YThe first stage of our process in an ‘Expression of Dissatisfaction’ where the relevant frontline staff member is empowered to try and resolve a complaint through early intervention. The complaint will be acknowledged within 2 workings days.
4.2Within the complaint acknowledgement, landlords must set out their understanding of the complaint and the outcomes the resident is seeking. If any aspect of the complaint is unclear, the resident must be asked for clarification and the full definition agreed between both parties.YThis is documented through an acknowledgement letter or email to residents after they have raised a
complaint.
4.6A complaint investigation must be conducted in an impartial manner.YWhere possible, investigating officers have not been involved in the situation that has led to the complaint. If a complaint is about how a member of staff has handled a situation this will be investigated by a different member of staff or manager.
4.7The complaint handler must:

– deal with complaints on their merits
– act independently and have an open mind
– take measures to address any actual or perceived conflict of interest
– consider all information and evidence carefully
– keep the complaint confidential as far as possible, with information only disclosed if necessary to
properly investigate the matter.
YTraining for complaint handlers is carried out and refreshers are held.
4.11Landlords must adhere to any reasonable arrangements agreed with residents in terms of frequency and method of communicationYComplainants are reminded about complaint response timeframes throughout the process.
4.12The resident, and if applicable any staff member who is the subject of the complaint, must also be given a fair chance to:
– set out their position
– comment on any adverse findings before a final decision is made.
YA full investigation will be carried out which
involves discussions with all involved parties in the complaint.
4.13A landlord must include in its complaints policy its timescales for a resident to request escalation of a
complaint
YThe procedure included under point 7 of our complaints policy sets this out. This is also included in the complaints information section on our website.
4.14A landlord must not unreasonably refuse to escalate a complaint through all stages of the complaints
procedure and must have clear and valid reasons for taking that course of action. Reasons for declining to escalate a complaint must be clearly set out in a landlord’s complaints policy and must be the same as the reasons for not accepting a complaint.
YPoint 6.8 in the Complaints Policy
4.15A full record must be kept of the complaint, any review and the outcomes at each stage. This must include the original complaint and the date received, all correspondence with the resident, correspondence with other parties and any reports or surveys prepared.YThe Customer Experience Coordinator oversees the management of the complaints tracker where this information is stored.
4.18Landlords must have policies and procedures in place for managing unacceptable behaviour from residents and/or their representatives when pursuing a complaint.YRefer to Unacceptable Behaviour Policy

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
4.3Landlords should manage residents’ expectations from the outset, being clear where a desired outcome is unreasonable or unrealisticYThis is captured when a resident raises a complaint and then managed through the process with explanation provided.
4.4A complaint should be resolved at the earliest possible opportunity, having assessed what evidence is needed to fully consider the issues, what outcome would resolve the matter for the resident and whether there are any urgent actions required.YThis is why we have implemented the ‘Expression of Dissatisfaction’ at stage 1 to promote early complaint resolution.
4.5Landlords should give residents the opportunity to have a representative deal with their complaint on their behalf, and to be represented or accompanied at any meeting with the landlord where this is reasonable.YPoint 6.9 in the Complaints Policy
4.8Where a key issue of a complaint relates to the parties’ legal obligations landlords should clearly set out their understanding of the obligations of both parties.YWe will not deal with a complaint where legal proceedings have been issued however, we will deal with complaints where residents are seeking legal advice.
4.9Communication with the resident should not generally identify individual members of staff or contractors.YWe have a complaint mailbox and aim for all complaints communication to be captured through this mailbox.
4.10Landlords should keep residents regularly updated about the progress of the investigation.YTimescales are documented and residents are kept informed of these. See section 7 of the complaint policy ‘Our
Complaints Procedure’.
4.16Landlords should seek feedback from residents in relation to the landlord’s complaint handling as part of the drive to encourage a positive complaint and learning culture.YResidents are contacted following the complaints process to complete a survey. This information is tracked for SLT and
the Board.
4.17Landlords should recognise the impact that being complained about can have on future service delivery. Landlords should ensure that staff are supported and engaged in the complaints process, including the learning that can be gainedYStaff are supported through monthly 1-2-1’s with their manager and have access to regular training.
4.19Any restrictions placed on a resident’s contact due to unacceptable behaviour should be appropriate to their needs and should demonstrate regard for the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.YSee the Unacceptable Behaviours Policy which is compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

Section 5 – Complaint stages

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements
Stage 1

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.1Landlords must respond to the complaint within 10 working days of the complaint being logged. Exceptionally, landlords may provide an explanation to the resident containing a clear timeframe for when the response will be received. This should not exceed a further 10 days without good reason.YPoint 7 ‘Our Complaints Procedure’ in the Complaints Policy covers expected timeframes. If the investigating manager is unable to respond within 10 working days, an
extension should be agreed by both parties. Where agreement over an extension period cannot be reached, the
investigating manager will provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so the complainant can challenge this request.
5.5A complaint response must be sent to the resident when the answer to the complaint is known, not when the outstanding actions required to address the issue, are completed. Outstanding actions must still be tracked and actioned expeditiously with regular updates provided to the resident.YActions are tracked through weekly complaints meetings with staff from across the organisation.
5.6Landlords must address all points raised in the complaint and provide clear reasons for any decisions, referencing the relevant policy, law and good practice where appropriate.YOur complaint investigation letters document all points raised within a complaint and the decision to uphold, not
uphold and partially uphold are clearly stated in the complaint response.
5.8Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at the completion of stage one in clear, plain language:
– the complaint stage
– the decision on the complaint
– the reasons for any decisions made
– the details of any remedy offered to put things right
– details of any outstanding actions
– details of how to escalate the matter to stage two if the resident is not satisfied with the answer
YSee point 7 of our complaints policy ‘Our Complaint Procedure’

Stage 2

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.9If all or part of the complaint is not resolved to the resident’s satisfaction at stage one it must be progressed to stage two of the landlord’s procedure, unless an exclusion ground now applies. In instances where a landlord declines to escalate a complaint it must clearly communicate in writing its reasons for not escalating as well as the resident’s right to approach the Ombudsman about its decision.YSee point 7 of our complaints policy ‘Our Complaint Procedure’
See point 6.8 in the Complaints Policy. If we decide not to accept a complaint, a detailed explanation will be provided setting out the reasons why the matter is not suitable for the complaints process, and we will clearly communicate a
complainant’s right to take that decision to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
5.10On receipt of the escalation request, landlords must set out their understanding of issues outstanding and the outcomes the resident is seeking. If any aspect of the complaint is unclear, the resident must be asked for clarification and the full definition agreed between both parties.YSee point 7.2 of our complaints policy.
5.11Landlords must only escalate a complaint to stage two once itYSee point 7.2 of our complaints policy.
5.12The person considering the complaint at stage two, must not be the same person that considered the complaint at stage one.YStage 2 in an opportunity for a manager to review the complaint and investigation carried out by a frontline member of staff at Stage 1.
5.13Landlords must respond to the stage two complaint within 20 working days of the complaint being escalated. Exceptionally, landlords may provide an explanation to the resident containing
a clear timeframe for when the response will be received. This should not exceed a further 10 days without good reason.
YSee point 7.2 of our complaints policy. We will respond within 10 working days at Stage 2.
5.16Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at
the completion of stage two in clear, plain language:
– the complaint stage
– the complaint definition
– the decision on the complaint
– the reasons for any decisions made
– the details of any remedy offered to put things right
– details of any outstanding actions
and
– if the landlord has a third stage, details of how to escalate the matter to stage three
– if this was the final stage, details of how to escalate the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service if the resident remains dissatisfied.
See point 7.2 – 7.3 of our complaints
policy

Stage 3

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.17Two stage landlord complaint procedures are ideal. This ensures that the complaint process is not unduly long. If landlords strongly believe a third stage is necessary, they must set out their reasons for this as part of their self-assessment. A process with more than three stages is not acceptable under any circumstancesA three-stage process works successfully for Mount Green as 80% of our complaints are resolved at our Stage 1, the expression of dissatisfaction stage by
a frontline member of staff. This provides exposure to complaints across the organisation and empowers frontline members of staff to create change within the organisation through ‘lessons learnt’ through complaints. If a resident remains dissatisfied the complaint can be
escalated to a manager at Mount Green to Stage 2. We have a Stage 3 to ensure complaint and residents are getting exposure at the highest level in the business. As a small business the number of complaints reaching Stage 3 is manageable for a Senior Manager or the Board to review. We have found
residents like this opportunity to have their complaint reviewed at a more senior level and this is continually monitored through our routine complaints survey.
5.20Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at the completion of stage three in clear, plain language:
– the complaint stage
– the complaint definition
– the decision on the complaint
– the reasons for any decisions made
– the details of any remedy offered to put things right
– details of any outstanding actions
– details of how to escalate the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service if the resident remains dissatisfied
See point 7.3 of our complaints policy.

Best practice ‘should’ requirements
Stage 1

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.2If an extension beyond 20 working days is required to enable the landlord to respond to the complaint fully, this should be agreed by both parties.YSee point 7.1 of our complaints policy.
5.3Where agreement over an extension period cannot be reached, landlords should provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so the resident can challenge the landlord’s plan for responding and/or the proposed timeliness of a landlord’s
response.
YIf the investigating manager is unable to respond within 10 working days, an extension should be agreed by both parties. Where agreement over an
extension period cannot be reached, the investigating manager will provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so the complainant can challenge this request.
5.4Where the problem is a recurring issue, the landlord should consider any older reports as part of the background to the complaint if this will help to resolve the issue for the resident. YAll records are kept of previous complaints through the Housing Management System so can be reviewed.
5.7Where residents raise additional complaints during the investigation, these should be incorporated into the stage one response if they are relevant and the stage one response has not been issued. Where the stage one response has been issued, or it would unreasonably delay the response, the complaint should be logged as a new complaint.YPoint 7.2 of the complaints policy. Where complainants raise additional complaints during the investigation, these should be incorporated into the Stage 2 response if they are relevant, and the Stage 2 response has not been issued. Where the Stage 2 response has been issued, or it would unreasonably delay the response, the additional complaint should be logged as a new complaint.

Stage 2

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.14If an extension beyond 10 working days is required to enable the landlord to respond to the complaint fully, this should be agreed by both parties.YPoint 7.2 of the complaints policy.
5.15Where agreement over an extension period cannot be reached, landlords should provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so the resident can challenge the landlord’s plan for responding and/or the proposed timeliness of a landlord’s responseYPoint 7.2 of the complaints policy.

Stage 3

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
5.18Complaints should only go to a third stage if the resident has actively requested a third stage review of their complaint. Where a third stage is in place and has been requested, landlords must respond to the stage three complaint within 20 working days of
the complaint being escalated. Additional time will only be justified if related to convening a panel. An explanation and a date for when the stage three response will be received should be provided to the resident.
Point 7.3 of the complaints policy. Responses following a meeting with a
Executive member of staff or the board will be provided within 10 working days.
5.19Where agreement over an extension period cannot be reached, landlords should provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact
details so the resident can challenge the landlord’s plan for responding and/or the proposed timeliness of a landlord’s response.
Point 7.3 of the complaints policy

Section 6 – Putting things right

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
6.1Effective dispute resolution requires a process designed to resolve complaints. Where something has gone wrong a landlord must acknowledge this and set out the actions it has already taken, or intends to take, to put things right.YThis is carried out through our investigation and communicated through the complaint response.
6.2Any remedy offered must reflect the extent of any service failures and the level of detriment caused to the resident as a
result. A landlord must carefully manage the expectations of residents and not promise anything that cannot be delivered or
would cause unfairness to other residents.
YThis is carried out through our investigation and communicated through the complaint response.
6.5The remedy offer must clearly set out what will happen and by when, in agreement with the resident where appropriate. Any
remedy proposed must be followed through to completion.
YThis is tracked through our regular complaints meetings.
6.6In awarding compensation, a landlord must consider whether any statutory payments are due, if any quantifiable losses have
been incurred, the time and trouble a resident has been put to as well as any distress and inconvenience caused.
YPlease refer to our Compensation Policy

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
6.3Landlords should look beyond the circumstances of the individual complaint and consider whether anything needs to be ‘put right’ in terms of process or systems to the benefit of all residents.YThe Customer Experience Manager will meet with the Assistant Directors at Mount Green quarterly to review
processes and lessons learned.
6.7In some cases, a resident may have a legal entitlement to redress. The landlord should still offer a resolution where possible, obtaining legal advice as to how any offer of resolution should be worded.Y

Section 7 – Continuous learning and improvement

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
7.2Accountability and transparency are integral to a positive complaint handling culture. Landlords must report back on wider learning and improvements from complaints in their annual report and more frequently to their residents, staff and scrutiny panels.YThe Customer Experience Manager will meet with the Assistant Directors quarterly and provide information to the Board quarterly about complaints. The Customer Experience Coordinator will report to all staff monthly about complaints. Complaints KPI’s will be shared with the resident committee group for scrutiny and information shared will
residents through our annual report and quarterly through the ‘resident matters’ magazine. The website will be updated twice a year with information about complaints

Best practice ‘should’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
7.3A member of the governing body should be appointed to have lead responsibility for complaints to support a positive complaint handling culture. This role will be responsible for ensuring the governing body receives regular information on complaints that
provides insight to the governing body on the landlord’s complaint handling performance.
YThis responsibility sits with the Director of Business Operation who provides feedback to The Board at quarterly meetings.
7.4As a minimum, governing bodies should receive:
– Regular updates on the volume, categories and outcome of complaints, alongside complaint handling performance including compliance with the Ombudsman’s orders
– Regular reviews of issues and trends arising from complaint handling,
– The annual performance report produced by the Ombudsman, where applicable
– Individual complaint outcomes where necessary, including where the Ombudsman made findings of severe maladministration or referrals to regulatory bodies. The implementation of management responses should be tracked to ensure they are delivered to agreed timescales.
The annual self-assessment against the Complaint Handling Code for scrutiny and challenge
YThis reported to the Board and Resident Committee Group quarterly.
7.5Any themes or trends should be assessed by senior management to identify potential systemic issues, serious risks or policies and procedures that require revision. They should also be used to inform staff and contractor training.YThis is tracked through quarterly meetings between the Customer Experience Manager and the Assistant Directors of all service areas across the business.
7.6Landlords should have a standard objective in relation to complaint handling for all employees that reflects the need to:
– have a collaborative and co-operative approach towards resolving complaints, working with colleagues across teams and departments
– take collective responsibility for any shortfalls identified through complaints rather than blaming others
– act within the Professional Standards for engaging with complaints as set by the Chartered Institute of Housing.
YThis is why our Stage 1 is an early resolution stage to empower staff from across the business. Monthly staff are provided with an overview of the months complaint via the Customer Experience Coordinator.

Section 8 – Self-assessment and compliance

Mandatory ‘must’ requirements

Code sectionCode requirementComply:
Yes/No
Evidence, commentary and any
explanations
8.1Landlords must carry out an annual self-assessment against the Code to ensure their complaint handling remains in line with its requirements.YThis document will be reviewed annually.
8.2Landlords must also carry out a self-assessment following a significant restructure and/or change in proceduresYThis document will be reviewed in line with any restructures.
8.3Following each self-assessment, a landlord must:
– report the outcome of their self-assessment to their governing body. In the case of local authorities, self assessment outcomes should be reported to elected members
– publish the outcome of their assessment on their website if they have one, or otherwise make accessible to residents
– include the self-assessment in their annual report section on complaints handling performance
YThe information from this document will be shared with the board and RCG. The key themes will be included on our website when the new updates are made to the complaints page and included in our annual report.